Thursday, August 12, 2010

plan B

plan A never goes according to plan.

most often, plan A goes sideways the millisecond after you put the finishing touches to it. good thing you've got a back-up plan, huh? 

nuh-uh. same thing applies to plan B and plan C and so on through the alphabet.

because no plan can account for the many variables you can think of, and all those you'd never conjure up in your most intricate anxiety dream. 

so while planning is very conscientious and comforting and human, it's mostly an exercise in delusion. the next time you think you're in control of the situation, no matter how innocuous the situation may seem, take a step back and allow yourself the languid terror of imagining how many ways you might be wrong. 

it won't make you feel better, but it'll bring you into the moment like a rake handle between the eyes.

and what could be more fun that that?

let's say, by way of example, that you have a deep, oppressive fear of flying. despite your fear and your careful avoidance of airplanes, some improbable set of variables aligns to absolutely require air travel. so you suck it up and get on the plane. settling into your seat, every sound you hear~from the loading of bags to the closing of the cargo door to the hissing of the ventilation system~confirms what you already know: the plane is seriously malfunctioning and inevitably going down.

take-offs and landings, you know, are the most dangerous. so as you roll down the runway, gaining terrifying speed, you hold your breath and wait for the end...which doesn't come! yet.

in flight, you're quite certain that every bump is the one with your name on it, the one that will put the plane into an unrercoverable dive. next thing you know, however, the captain is asking the flight attendants to prepare for landing. already? is it possible? still, you're not ready to be grateful, as the landing will shirley be disastrous.

but no, the landing is flawless, and as you taxi toward the gate, you're ecstatic. everything went according to (somebody's) plan. you take a deep breath and smile. almost simultaneously, you hear shouting. there's a disturbance behind you. people are fighting!

is it 9/11 all over again? the world goes dim, and you faint... only to learn later that the hijacking was just a flight attendant having a hissy fit and exiting the plane. down the escape slide with a couple beers in hand.

not part of the plan. and now you're traumatized in a whole new way.  

moving on, let's say you're sitting in the waiting area of a local hospital. it's quite luxurious, really, compared with, say, the rest of the world. you got your comfy chairs, your cable tv, your multiplicity of outlets powering everyone's wifi-enabled devices. hungry? there's a nice internet cafe. bon apetit.

there are so many creature comforts and distractions, it's almost possible to completely compartmentalize where you are and what might be happening just beyond the big gray door over there on the right side of the room. almost. because someone you care about is having surgery right through that door. 

and if you accidently allow yourself a stray moment of high alert~entirely appropriate given the surroundings~you remember that anything can happen the next time that door opens and someone in scrubs walks through.

it's a slow-motion moment in which you can hear yourself breathe and feel the blood moving through your veins and you experience the same feeling your ancestors did when they realized the wolf pack had caught their scent and was turning in their direction.

not part of the plan.

this is not to say that every plan goes upside down whenever the wind blows, ushering in an epoch of suffering and darkness (the bush administration notwithstanding). most plans play out just he way they're constructed, blithely unperturbed by the infinite variables whizzing past. any one of which could send the planet spiraling into the sun, but somehow doesn't. 

no, this is simply to say that as responsible as we all are, planning and forecasting and predicting with such adorable certainty...there's really no such thing. and the sooner we realize that plans A through Z have gone hilariously awry, all through history, the sooner we get to beer o'clock. metaphysically, that is.

speaking of which...


it's good to have a plan.

Sent from my iPad

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